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Paul Manafort Appears in Court as Judge Briefs Potential Jurors; Speaker Paul Ryan Says Trump Trolling People with Security Clearances Threat; Trump Pushes to Drill in Alaska Refuge. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired July 24, 2018 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:33:11] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is headed back to jail after a pretty quick appearance this morning in a Virginia courtroom. We're told Manafort was wearing a suit and tie, not that jumpsuit in previous appearances. The jail jumpsuit he had been in.
This comes as the first potential jurors in his criminal case were briefed by a federal judge. The judge gave questionnaires to the potential jurors, telling them they must be able to judge Manafort solely on the evidence of the trial. Everyone was then dismissed. Witnesses say as the potential jurors left the room, Manafort winked at his wife who was sitting in the front row. A little color from the courtroom for you.
Paul Callan is here on this and much more, our legal analyst. It's nice to have you. Good morning.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good seeing you.
HARLOW: Let's get through a lot of this. And first, when you look at what he is facing, what Manafort is facing, we've learned that his lawyers do not interestingly plan to argue in this trial before these jurors that their client, Paul Manafort, is the victim in any way of political prosecution or that he was selectively or vindictively prosecuted. That is important and interesting because this judge, who's going to hear this case and preside over it, Judge Ellis, said a month or so ago to -- to Mueller's team about this case, you don't care about Manafort. This is all just about essentially President Trump and trying to lead to his prosecution and impeachment.
CALLAN: You know, that's very true. But I have to tell you something about Judge Ellis. He was appointed by President Reagan. And lawyers think of him as an equal opportunity basher. In other words, sometimes he will beat up the prosecutors and then the next day, two days later, he is beating up the defense attorneys. So a lot of people misread Ellis and thought he was sort of pro-Manafort and anti- government. But he is just a crusty, very opinionated judge. And some he criticizes both sides.
[10:35:01] So I wouldn't read too much into that. And I don't think that defense that he's been singled out as a sort of political defendant --
HARLOW: Right. Is a way to get to the president.
CALLAN: I don't think Ellis will allow that defense to go forward.
HARLOW: Difficult to sit a jury in this case, given the high profile nature of it?
CALLAN: It's very difficult. But doable. I mean, we've tried O.J. Simpson.
CALLAN: We tried other high-profile defendants.
CALLAN: So you will come up eventually with 12 people and alternates who can sit on this case.
HARLOW: Let's talk about the president's former self-proclaimed fixer, former personal attorney Michael Cohen. We know now that he did record the president in a phone call about a payment to a former alleged mistress of his. We know there are 12 tapes. Only one of them has the president on them. Would these conversations specially -- would the one conversation with President Trump be covered by attorney-client privilege? We know that Giuliani and the team have waved the right. But would it even be covered?
CALLAN: Well, normally it would be covered if the president was having a discussion with Michael Cohen about a legal matter. And hush money, payments to anybody, including prior mistresses, would be considered to be legal. So that could have been a privileged conversation. So the real question is, did they waive the privilege? In other words the president can consent to having it turned over to prosecutors. And I think that's what happened here.
HARLOW: You write an opinion piece on CNN.com this morning and it's fascinating because you argue, and the final sentence is, you know, if Cohen is seen as akin to John Dean and President Nixon, he will be John Dean light. Why is that? I mean, why do you think he is not as potentially valuable, I guess, to those opposing the president if he flips?
CALLAN: Well, you know, in writing the article I found out a lot of people don't even remember who John Dean was.
CALLAN: Absolutely. Counsel to President Nixon, the center of the Watergate scandal and maybe the most important witness that led ultimately to the impeachment of the president. But I call Cohen John Dean light because even if Cohen has some taped conversations with the president, John Dean had the benefit of every conversation that happened in the Oval Office pretty much was on tape. And John Dean's evidence related to Nixon as president. Most of
Cohen's tapes probably relate to President Trump before he was inaugurated.
HARLOW: The private citizen.
CALLAN: So there may be -- even if there was evidence of a crime or embarrassing stuff on the president, I don't think he is going to get impeached for it.
HARLOW: I will say "Vanity Fair" reporting -- Emily Jane Fox this morning reports that Michael Cohen told his friends, quote, "If they think for a second that the efforts to discredit me aren't known to me, they're sadly mistaken. Did they think I was just going to roll over and die?"
CALLAN: Yes. That sounds like a declaration of war by Cohen. And so we're going to see a lot of interesting things in these tapes. But I don't know that they'll rise to the level of John Dean against Richard Nixon.
HARLOW: It's a fascinating read. Everyone should check it out. Paul, thank you. Nice to have you as well.
Breaking news. Moments ago House Speaker Paul Ryan says the president is, quote, "trolling people" with his threat to pull security clearances from former officials. You'll hear it all here next.
[10:42:44] HARLOW: Some breaking news out of that press conference just moments ago with House Speaker Paul Ryan. First up, his reaction to President Trump's threat of pulling security clearances for former intel chiefs. A reporter asked him if he thinks that's dangerous. Here's how Paul Ryan responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I think he is trolling people, honestly. This is something that's in the purview of the executive branch. I think some of these people already lost their clearances. I think he's just trolling people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Manu Raju was there. He joins me now with more. Significant.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, you know, a number of Republicans have actually pushed back on these comments that the president made, and they're dismissing them the way that Paul Ryan did, saying that the president appears to just be trolling. And other Republicans that I talked to suggested that the president should not be going down this road, including Congressman Scott Taylor from Virginia, who told me yesterday that it's a wrong decision for the president to do this. A lot of them, though, simply see this as a distraction that the White
House is pushing in light of all the other issues that are going on. One of the issues of course is the president's performance last week in Helsinki alongside Vladimir Putin and his decision to call for a second meeting in Washington with Vladimir Putin. I asked Paul Ryan directly whether or not he thinks it's a good idea to bring Vladimir Putin back to Washington. And he said, we're not going to invite Vladimir Putin to Congress. We're not going to let him address Congress.
That's usually -- it's for our allies, not our adversaries. He said I don't mind if leaders meet one on one, but the messages need to be very firm with the Russians that there will be no election attacks allowed in the United States. And when I followed up, I said, well, don't you think the president needs to be firmer on that? Paul Ryan responded, Poppy, saying, quote, "We all need to be firmer," suggesting the White House -- didn't want to go directly at the president on that.
But nevertheless, this latest thing about the security clearances clearly part of an effort by the White House perhaps to change the subject away from what happened in Helsinki, what happened alongside Vladimir Putin and the pushback that he's getting about the second summit as well -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Paul Ryan chooses his words so carefully. So for him to say twice in so many seconds, you know, that he is trolling is really interesting.
Manu, thank you.
Still to come, a refuge for wildlife or the site of the next big oil boom.
[10:45:03] President Trump has opened up vast parts of Alaska for drilling. Our Bill Weir takes us into "TRUMP VERSUS THE WILD," next.
HARLOW: The Alaskan wilderness. One of the few remaining unspoiled parts of the world. But now 1.5 million acres of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is facing off with the Trump administration. Last time last year opening the door for big oil drilling by big oil for the first time in decades.
Bill Weir is with me now. You went, you spent a lot of time up there.
BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
HARLOW: What sparked this?
WEIR: Well, what sparked it was a sound bite from the president when he was talking about ANWR. What is it? He didn't know what it was. A friend in the oil industry. We're going to play that for you. But as we live from tweet to tweet in this frenzy news cycle, so much environmental protection is being rolled back. Shrinking national parks, pulling back endangered species protection, and opening up these amazing wild spaces for drilling. So I went up to sort of ground zero in this debate. And there is a modern gold rush going on. Not cause by a gleaming the stream but the election with Donald J. Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEIR: This is magnificent. Wow.
(Voice-over) Way up in the tip-top of Alaska, an airline can feel like a time machine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is here in there? There are a bunch of little babies running around.
WEIR: Because the Arctic National Wild Life Refuge commonly known as ANWR is the kind of pure wilderness most of America paved over long ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is it. You are in the heart of the arctic refuge.
WEIR (on camera): Welcome to one of the last truly wild places on earth.
(Voice-over): The coastal plain brims with life from musk oxen to bear, both grizzly and polar. Birds that will migrate to the backyards of all 50 states. But as Florian Schulz has captured over the years, the most common creature is the caribou. And not just a few but hundreds of thousands. The kind of herd unseen since the plain's buffalo were wiped away. And when Florian is here with his family we can't help but wonder how long it will last.
FLORIAN SCHULZ, FILMMAKER, WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER: We need to keep some of these places untouched. We are changing the world everywhere so fast. But why not leave a few places unspoiled?
WEIR: For almost 60 years, that was the rational that protected ANWR from this. These are the oil fields at crude old bay that fill the famous pipeline and power countless lives. But since there are billions of barrels elsewhere, nature lovers have long argues there is no need to drill here. And for decades, that argument held until --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One day a friend of mine who's in the oil business called, is it true that you have ANWR in the -- I said, I don't know. Who cares? What is that? He said, well, you know, Reagan tried. Every single president tried. And I said you got to be kidding. I love it now. And after that we fought like hell to get ANWR. He talked me into it.
WEIR: December's tax cut bill also opened ANWR to drilling thanks to Alaska's senator Lisa Murkowski who slipped in the provision knowing that it would only need 51 instead of 60 votes to pass.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: It is wrong for those from the outside looking in who have taken a nice trip into an area and said, this must be protected.
WEIR: But conservationists point out, there is already a huge glut of American oil.
(On camera): And oil companies are laying people off up here, right? Because prices are so low.
NICOLE WHITTINGTON-EVANS, THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY: Oil companies have been laying people off. And, you know, for the first time in the last five years, I was seeing more oil company workers leaving the state of Alaska and going to places like North Dakota than coming into the state.
WEIR (voice-over): But much like Trump's efforts to revive dying coal mines, the rush to drill here seems driven more by politics than economics.
(On camera): Former speaker of the House, Tom DeLay, once said, if we could drill in ANWR, it will break the back of the environmental lobby.
DAN RITZMAN, SIERRA CLUB: Well, they haven't drilled in ANWR yet. We know that the arctic regions are heating twice as fast as any other part of the world. And it just makes zero sense to come here and look for more oil that's just going to exacerbate that problem.
WEIR (voice-over): And among those opposed is the Gwich'in nation, the northern most tribe of Native Americans.
(On camera): How many people live here?
FAITH GEMMILL, NEETS'AII GWICH'IN TRIBAL MEMBER, ARCTIC VILLAGE: About 150 year round.
WEIR: Wow. I think about 150 people live on my floor of my apartment building.
(Voice-over): The numbers may be tiny but they are definitely not outsiders.
GEMMILL: Archeological evidence shows we have been here over 25,000 years.
WEIR: And the only reason they survived is caribou. Back in the day, they would trap the animals in these handmade corrals. These days they use guns and snowmobiles but still need the animals to survive in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in America.
(On camera): Groceries at the Midnight Sun can cost twice as much as the Whole Foods in Manhattan. Gasoline up here runs $10 a gallon. But still given the choice between oil money and caribou, there is no debate. These folks will stick with the one animal that has kept them alive for thousands of years and they cannot imagine drills and trucks and pipelines across what they call the sacred place where life begins. GEMMILL: Look what happened to the Plains Indians and the buffalo.
That's not going to happen to my people. We're not going to allow that to happen again.
WEIR (voice-over): To the Gwich'in, they are a Native American David against a Goliath -- oil companies, Republican lawmakers, and the Inupiat, a coastal tribe of Native Alaskans eager to drill and cash in.
EDWARD REXFORD, UNALAKLEET, ALASKA: Now that the U.S. is saying we can finally do this, now we have the other side, the environmentalists saying we can't do this. What's wrong with this picture?
WEIR: As the government rushes towards development, community meetings lay bare the fight -- tribe versus tribe, neighbor against neighbor.
ADRIENNE TITUS, UNALAKLEET, ALASKA: We have thousands of gallons discovered in places that have already seen destruction, but restraint is what we lack. When did we all become owners of the land? It has always owned us.
WEIR: There's a rush to sell off two 400,000 acre leases by as early as next year. But the conservationists, the wilderness lovers are hoping they can win in court.
WEIR: Or maybe at the polls for the midterms and beyond.
HARLOW: There you go. So what's up next?
WEIR: Part two is we're going to dig into that community that's pro- drilling.
WEIR: These are Native Alaskans who see this as sovereignty and their right to exploit this land.
HARLOW: You saw how emotional that last one was.
WEIR: It gets very emotional. But they will also get into the climate change piece of this.
[10:55:02] WEIR: These folks are going after the one product that's changing their landscape. Melting --
WEIR: Forever. HARLOW: Bill Weir, thank you for going. Thank you for doing this.
And it's beautifully shot and edited. We appreciate it. More from Bill tomorrow morning.
Ahead, President Trump threatening to revoke security clearances of former intel chiefs. What does Paul Ryan, speaker of the House, think about it? He thinks the president is just trolling people. We'll have more on that ahead. Let me hand it over to my colleague Kate Bolduan who picks it up right after this.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in for Kate Bolduan. A presidential diversion tactic that could come with real security implications for the country. What President Trump is doing is transparent.